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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
General Assembly
25 September 2012

General Assembly
GA/11292

        Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly
Plenary
6th, 7th & 8th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)


OPENING ANNUAL DEBATE AMID 'TIME OF TURMOIL, TRANSITION', SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS

ON WORLD LEADERS TO OVERCOME DIVISIONS, DO MORE TO ADDRESS SOBERING CHALLENGES


General Assembly President Says UN Can Be as Strong as Members Choose to Make It;
Urges Delegations to Find Courage, Tenacity of Purpose to Master Challenges Ahead


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Background

The General Assembly this morning opened the general debate of its sixty-seventh session, hearing the Secretary-General’s report on the state of the Organization’s work.

Opening Remarks

Opening the general debate, United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said that delegations gathered every year at this time to look soberly and without illusion at the state of the world. “This year, I am here to sound the alarm about our direction as a human family. We can all see widespread insecurity and injustice, inequality and intolerance,” he said, pointing to Governments that were wasting vast and precious funds on deadly weapons while reducing investments in people. Further, the severe and growing impacts of climate change were “right there before our eyes”, yet too many people in power seemed wilfully blind to the threat.

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On the wider Middle East, he said that after decades of harsh occupation and humiliating restrictions in almost every aspect of their lives, the Palestinian people must be able to realize their right to a viable State of their own. Likewise, Israel must be able to live in peace and security, free from threats and rockets. Yet, while the two-State solution was the only sustainable option, the door to that path might be closing for good, as Israeli settlement growth continued in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “We must break this dangerous impasse,” he declared, rejecting both the language of de-legitimization and threats of potential military action by one State against another.

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Statements

DILMA ROUSSEFF, President of Brazil, ...

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Touching on the Israeli-Palestinian question, she reiterated her Government’s support for the recognition of the Palestinian State as a full United Nations member, stressing that only a free and sovereign Palestine would be able to fulfil Israel’s legitimate desires for peace, security and regional political stability. ...

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BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States, ...

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In the Middle East, the road was hard but the destination was clear: an independent, prosperous Palestine and a secure Israel. Understanding that such a peace must come through a just agreement between the parties, the United States could walk alongside all those that were willing to make that journey. ...

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BONI YAYI, President of Benin, ...

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Turning to the Middle East, he said the United Nations had the wherewithal to find a solution to the Palestinian situation. Africa favoured a “one land two States” approach to restore peace, as Palestinians and Israelis must be able to live in friendship, peace and prosperity. ...

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SAULI NIINISTÖ, President of Finland, ...

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... In the broader Middle East, a two-State solution involving an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian State living in peace and security with Israel was slipping out of reach. “The negotiations must restart,” he said, with a view to creating a Palestinian State and respecting Israel’s security concerns. ...

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DEMETRIS CHRISTOFIAS, President of Cyprus, ...

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... the Middle East Peace Process continued to be at an impasse. It was imperative to resume negotiations, which would eventually lead to the implementation of a Security Council resolution and the establishment of a free and independent Palestinian State, based on the pre-1967 border. The solution must at the same time address the legitimate security concerns of Israel.

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SHEIKH HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL-THANI, Amir of Qatar, ...

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He said that, despite the suffering in specific countries, the core problem in the Middle East remained the Palestinian question, including the ongoing Israeli occupation of Arab territories throughout the region and the stifling blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip. The peace process was at a stalemate because Israel continued to expand its settlements in the Palestinian Occupied Territory and East Jerusalem. Sometimes, he asked why the international community did not do more to implement countless resolutions on the issue and why the Security Council would not adopt a Chapter VII resolution forcing Israel to end the blockade, halt settlement construction and return to peace talks. His question remained unanswered.

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ROSSEN PLEVNELIEV, President of Bulgaria, ...

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... Welcoming steps made towards democratic reform in the context of the so-called Arab Spring, he said that the reactivation of the Middle East Peace process was needed now more than ever and looked forward to the resumption of direct negotiations, expecting both parties to demonstrate continued commitment to a peaceful settlement that respected the legitimate interests and sensitivities of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, based on the two-State solution.

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FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, President of France, ...

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... Also on the Middle East, he urged action that would assist Israel and the Palestinians in overcoming their deadlock. “The status quo is not an answer, it’s an impasse,” he added.

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Referring to the theme of the Assembly’s sixty-seventh session, HIFIKEPUNYE POHAMBA, President of Namibia, ...

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... Namibia wished to reaffirm its unequivocal support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and national independence, based on the relevant United Nations resolutions. ...

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CRISTINA FERNÁNDEZ, President of Argentina, ... As for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there was a need to recognize Palestine as a State, she said, adding that Israel must accept the 1967 borders. The situation had dragged on for decades without any constructive progress.

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MACKY SALL, President of Senegal, ...

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Speaking as Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, he restated that body’s support for the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, saying that “is one of our oldest promises we have not yet fulfilled”. In the interest of all peoples of the region and the world, “it is high time that the Holy Land of the three revealed religions no longer be a land of fire, blood and tears, because the light of wisdom emanating from its spiritual calling makes it instead a land of peace and human fraternity”.

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JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, ...

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Turning to the Middle East, he expressed concern about the Palestine-Israeli conflict, saying his country remained committed to a two-State solution based on the 1967 borders, and fully supported Palestine’s application for United Nations membership. It was unacceptable that Palestine remained outside the Organization, he said, calling for the matter to be concluded soon in a positive way. ...

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RICARDO MARTINELLI BERROCAL, President of Panama, said his country advocated the peaceful resolution of all international conflicts through multilateral organizations and using tools such as mediation, cooperation and dialogue. The search for those tools must involve legitimate representatives of the parties to a conflict, who must make efforts to recognize the rights of their counterparts while complying with their own obligations to reach just and permanent solutions. For that reason, Panama considered that Palestine had the right to be recognized as a national State, but must solve its differences with Israel, he said. ...

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ABDULLAH II, King of Jordan, ...

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As for the crisis at the heart of the region, he said Palestinians had been the exception to the United Nations promise of shelter under international law, the dignity of living in freedom and security, and the right to self-determination. No issue stirred more anger than telling an entire people that they did not count when it came to global justice. The “Arab Summer” could not bear its full fruit until the Palestinian-Israeli conflict ended with a just peace and a Palestinian State, living side-by-side with a secure Israel. Illegal settlement-building and unilateral actions threatened a negotiated peace. Jordan was also extremely concerned about threats to Jerusalem and the sanctity of its Muslim and Christian holy sites.

With Al-Aqsa Mosque and Compound under Hashemite custodianship and protected by international law as occupied territory, he warned, any invasion or division of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa would be viewed not only as a breach of Israel’s obligations, but as a profound religious transgression. A clear message must be sent that such actions would not be tolerated. The world could not afford continuing hostility. There was a potential opportunity after elections in the United States to achieve a solution that would see two States at peace — Palestine and Israel — secure and free to look forward on the basis of a just, comprehensive and final settlement. “The Arab world is seeking peace, real peace”, involving diplomatic and economic relations, and a new normality wherein people would be safe in their homes. That prospect had been on offer since 2002 under the Arab Peace Initiative, through which 57 Arab and Muslim countries had reached out to Israel, he noted, emphasizing that it was time for Israel to turn around and make peace with the Palestinians. Almost three generations after the creation of the United Nations, it was not enough simply to make the right choices. “We must also pursue effective action.”

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ASIF ALI ZARDARI, President of Pakistan, ... The legitimate aspirations of any people should be accommodated peacefully and in a manner consistent with sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said, adding that Pakistan supported the right of the Palestinian people to an independent State and to the admission of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations.

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ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, ...

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The conflicts which continued to destabilize the world, he said, are a reflection of people’s aspirations for peace and security, justice, development and sovereign equality of States. Those aspirations are equally of the people of Palestine and the people of Cuba, he said. The Palestinians wished for peace and security alongside its neighbours with secure and internationally recognized borders, while Cuba wished for a lifting of an economic embargo which had been hurting it commercially and financially.

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HAMID KARZAI, President of Afghanistan, ...

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... He ... expressed Afghanistan’s support for the Palestinian people’s right to an independent State.

EDWARD KIWANUKA SSEKANDI, Vice-President of Uganda, ...

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... On the Israeli-Palestinian question, he said Uganda continued to call upon both parties to negotiate a peaceful settlement based on a two-State solution.

MARIANO RAJOY BREY, Prime Minister of Spain, ...

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...Spain supported a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he stressed, adding that the global community must have the courage to take the necessary steps to ensure a just, durable peace in response to the yearnings of both sides.

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For information media • not an official record


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